Art fairs are becoming an increasingly important part of the art world. While they can be a turnoff because of their size, not to mention the crowds, art fairs are also a good way to see contemporary art, without feeling the pressure or awkwardness that you can sometimes experience in a gallery. While it can sometimes be difficult to engage the staff at some of the gallerybooths, who are often on their ipads,or eating lunch, or in rapt discussions with their colleagues, if you have a question, ask it. Even if you’re not going to buy. If you feel a bit put off, try talking with some of the more friendly gallery staff; there’s no harm in admitting you’re not familiar with a particular artist or media (these guys weren’t born knowing everything about art either). After all, if the gallery is serious, they will want to educate you on the chance that some day you’ll be in the market and may buy from them. I’ve had some great conversations with gallerists where I’ve walked away having learned a whole lot more about an artist or a genre or a period in history. Its also worth checking out the lectures and programs that the art fairs run, whether on how to build a collection, issues in the art world, or talks on a particular artist’s work.
It seems May 14th to the 17th is the weekend to see the Spring fairs. Here are my picks
Frieze Projects New York, an offshoot of the British art fair, seems to have found a home in Randall’s Island, where you can catch it from May 14th to 17th. I went the first time it came here in 2012 and was favorably impressed, if not a bit overwhelmed. Now in its fourth iteration, in addition to the works presented in the individual gallery spaces, Frieze also has specially commissioned works, audio works, panel discussions and lectures.
Miami in NYC
Also taking place May 14th to 17th, but on the West Side of Manhattan at Pier 94 is Art Miami New York, hosting 100 contemporary galleries from over 50 countries. The line up of panel discussions look especially helpful for new or future art collectors.
1:54 Contemporary African Art
For the first time, and in Brooklyn, there will be a contemporary African Art Fair, May 15th to 17th. 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will take place at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, showcasing visual artists from across Africa, as well as hosting artist talks, lectures and film screenings.
The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is hosting it’s fair May 14th to 17th, at Basketball City on the Lower East Side. I went to this fair last year, and found it refreshingly funky, easy to navigate, and without a lot of the pretense that can surround these events. Individual artists as well as galleries show at this fair. NADA’s focus is on emerging artists, some of whom are highly skilled and others who are a long way from maturity, making it a great way to see the new comers from around the world. It’s also FREE!